Allison Kavanagh never thought it would happen to her. A marriage that began as a fairy tale is now over in the most-definitely-not-a-fairy-tale of ways: divorce. Allison was so sure that God had promised to heal her marriage, and she wonders what went wrong.
Now on her own, Allison retreats to a cabin that her great aunt Emma left to her in the mountains of Idaho. While living there, she discovers many years’ worth of diaries that her aunt Emma wrote. Through the pages of those diaries, Allison discovers that she had more in common with her great aunt than she ever knew.
While adjusting to small town life and to a life after divorce, Allison must come back to the path from which she strayed – the path that leads to God and His grace and His healing.
I have always been a fan of contemporary novels that also go back in time to tell a historical story, and that part of A Promise Kept was the highlight of the book for me. Aunt Emma’s story was so complex and heartbreaking, and I remained interested throughout that storyline. I also liked how Emma’s story and Allison’s story were so closely related.
The relationships among the characters in this book were also enjoyable. Allison had a great relationship with her daughter, which is always an encouragement to me. The other members of the small town, too, were nice and helpful and were there for each other. They celebrated together, and they mourned together, and that was a very refreshing part of this novel.
The way the plot moves forward in this novel is mostly through character development. I will admit that I like my stories to be developed more through action, but for the most part, this storytelling device was handled well. I thought it moved a bit too slowly in places, and I got tired of knowing every detail of Allison’s daily life (what she was wearing, how she operated her washing machine), but the parts that were truly focused on character development were much stronger than those other little details.
Although I didn’t relate to Allison personally – I have not been in her life situation – I was able to understand what she was going through and be able to sympathize with her. Since this is a semi-autobiographical novel, I was able to feel what the author went through during this time in her life which made the novel very real.
I was confused, however, at Allison’s insistence that God had promised to heal her marriage. Even the tag for this book claims this: “God was going to save her marriage, Allison was sure of it. But neither her husband nor her marriage had been saved. What had become of His promise?”
Throughout this entire novel, the focus is on Allison wondering if she had heard God correctly when he promised to save her marriage. By the end she realizes that God had kept His promise to her but not in the way she was expecting. I felt, though, that Allison was holding onto a “promise” that had come to her audibly from God rather than relying on His Word. Feelings and emotions can get tangled up with truth inside our hearts, and I like to be cautious – even in light of a fiction book – that I don’t take what I think I hear from God as a promise from Him or as truth. Everything needs to be viewed through the lens of scripture, and Allison didn’t seem to always do this.
God does promise in His Word that he will never leave us or forsake us, and Allison was able to learn this and rest on this truth during the hard times in her life, which is always a great reminder.
I will give A Promise Kept … 3 BookWorms.
A Promise Kept
by Robin Lee Hatcher
Thomas Nelson Publishers
Publication date: January 7, 2014
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."